Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/09/08/ad_invoice_asa/

Watchdog mauls internet directory for bogus invoices

Dodgy mailing

By Tim Richardson

Posted in Small Biz, 8th September 2004 09:40 GMT

A London company has coughed to using dodgy sales tactics to try and get firms to sign up to its internet business directory by misleading businesses to think they owed money. London-based GC Logic Ltd admitted sending out a letter and invoice to firms asking for £49 (inc VAT) to be included in its internetnoticeboard.com business directory.

GC Logic said the payment was due because the "initial free trial period of 30 days has now elapsed".

But a company in Cheshire complained because it had no recollection of subscribing to the directory in the first place. When challenged by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), GC Logic admitted that those receiving the mailshot had not subscribed to a free trial.

The company - which bought a database of business names and addresses from a company in India - also admitted that it had received a stack of complaints about the mailshot. GC Logic "acknowledged that [it] had taken the wrong approach", but explained that it was a new company trying to make the most from its "minimal budget".

In its adjudication, the ASA said: "[GC Logic] said they accepted full responsibility for the complaints received and the incorrect data used and said no further marketing activities would take place using the database in question."

Even so, the ad watchdog ruled that the "mailing postured as an invoice and concluded that the mailing misleadingly implied the recipients owed money".

If GC Logic continues to send out the misleading mailings, and the ASA receives further complaints, then the matter can be forwarded to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to investigate. ®

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